Baseball, Sports

Dirtbags hit the road for critical Big West weekend series

 Trailing CS Fullerton by 2 1/2 games in the Big West Conference, the Long Beach State baseball team will need to build on its most recent road victory to keep pace.

 The Dirtbags (31-18, 11-7 Big West) are coming off a 10-0, one-hit shutout victory at San Diego State, improving to 11-12 on the road, and will travel to Cal Poly for a three-game series beginning tomorrow night at 6 p.m.

 LBSU, a winner in 12 of its last 17, will send ace Andrew Liebel to the mound at Baggett Stadium. Liebel (7-2, 1.69 ERA) is coming off his second consecutive shutout, a five-hitter in a 3-0 win over UC Santa Barbara. The senior right-hander was named the Big West and National Pitcher of the Week after his performance and leads the Big West in ERA, innings pitched and is second in the conference with 84 strikeouts.

 Cal Poly (23-27, 7-11 Big West) will give the ball to right-hander Eric Massingham (2-4, 5.69 ERA), who has allowed a .312 batting average to the opposition.

 The Mustangs will look to the duo of third baseman Brett Morel and center fielder Logan Schafer to chase Liebel off the mound.

 Morel enters the series with team-highs in batting average (.371) and RBIs (55) to go with seven home runs, while Schafer is hitting .366 with eight homers. As a team, Cal Poly is hitting .302.

 Entering the weekend, designated hitter Shane Peterson is hitting a scorching .385 for LBSU — .393 in conference play — with seven homers and 47 RBIs. Shortstop Danny Espinosa will look to build on his first-inning grand slam that helped rock San Diego State early Tuesday. He’s hitting .325 with 41 runs scored and has swiped 9-of-11 bases this season.

The Dirtbags will be without freshman right-hander Jake Thompson (2-5, 4.48 ERA), who is out for the series after getting a ball hit off his calf in last Sunday’s start against the Gauchos. Sophomore Brett Lorin (3-3, 3.09 ERA) will take his place and get his first career weekend start Saturday against lefty Jared Eskew (5-2, 3.70 ERA) at 6 p.m. Right-hander Vance Worley (5-3, 4.76 ERA) will be pushed back to pitch Sunday’s 1 p.m. finale against right-hander Steven Fishback (5-3, 4.58 ERA).

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